“Fifty shades of clay,” “primeval, primordial even, visceral, sensual,” “cracked and half-baked.” Those are some of the critical reactions to The Great Pottery Throw Down, BBC Two’s latest entry in the homespun competition sphere which debuted last night in the UK. The series, which sees 10 potters put their kiln skills to the test for host Sara Cox and judges Kate Malone and Keith Brymer Jones, hails from Love Productions, the folks behind The Great British Bake Off. That cooking show has been a runaway ratings success for BBC One — last month’s finale was the most watched TV program of the year. Thrown Down (see trailer above) last night beat the slot average, but hasn’t quite grabbed the zeitgeist yet with 1.9M viewers and a 9 share at 9PM.
If Twitter and hype are anything to go by, however, this show has Bake Off in its sights. That series also got off to a slow start six years ago, and began on BBC Two before moving over to the flagship channel. The Guardian and many others loved Throw Down, The Times was a dissenter.
With the tagline “Making is the new baking,” the competition to find Britain’s best home potter is set across 35 “grueling days” with 18 different challenges. Those include making earthenware kitchen bowls, ornate but functional chandeliers and super-sized garden sculptures.
Malone is a ceramic artist and Brymer Jones a master potter who was driven to tears in the premiere episode. Innuendo is one of the highlights of Bake Off and Cox and the rest of the crew are expected to make good use of the opportunities that a slab of wet clay and a pottery wheel offer up for quips. Cue “Unchained Melody” and the Ghost references which are sure to come.
Whether we’ll get a U.S. version or see the original Stateside isn’t known yet. A remake of Bake Off fell like an unrealized soufflé on CBS in 2013, but the success of the BBC One show this year has led ABC to schedule a special holiday version. The Great Holiday Baking Show will air on November 30. Can it be long before a U.S. net takes a turn at the wheel?